Malibu is possibly the tallest horse I've ever ridden. I don't know his exact height, but over 17 hands for sure. He's sweet, safe, and dependable. But he does require his rider to ask correctly before he responds. An excellent quality for a lesson horse.
The flat exercises were basic but effective multi-part exercises to get better engagement and connection: trot circle followed by a few steps of walk followed by trot on the straight, leg yield in followed by leg yield out followed by canter depart.
SM had me working on lifting my hands up - at bellybutton or higher! - basically at all times, to help get Malibu's shoulder up. She especially had me use lifting hands for down transitions (moving my hands up and not just back), as we traveled downhill toward jumps to help prevent us getting on the forehand and strung out, and also as we approached fences. I'm used to planting my hands in the neck on the approach but she had me keep my hands up off the neck throughout jumping. It made a huge difference in how Malibu carried himself.
SM also had me maintain a half-seat throughout jumping instead of full seat on the approach to a jump. A light seat helped Malibu keep a bouncy canter and stay off the forehand especially when heading downhill.
She used the concept of "holding leg versus driving leg", especially when going downhill or heading to a jump. Just enough leg to keep the gait going nicely, but not too much such that it drives the horse onto the forehand or accelerates them or get strung-out to a jump. This was new to me: using just enough leg.
She also had me wiggle "left finger, right finger, left finger, right finger" to ask for more connection and roundness without changing pressure on the bit, and it worked nicely. Overall Malibu takes a heavier contact to the bridle - not so heavy that I was sore or anything, just more than I'm used to.
She also focused on my position after the jump (whereas I'm probably too concerned with my position over the jump). Specifically for me to focus on heels down, and eyes up, and long torso with long neck. It made me wonder if I hunch at jumps and don't realize it.
Overall the lesson was very nice. It was completely relaxed and pleasurable. It highlighted some small but important differences in jumping style between hunters and eventing (as I've been taught, at least). I have lots of takeaways to try with Hannah. I think that riding "like a hunter" will help me deal with my over-defensive habits including ones I may have but wasn't aware of (driving seat? hunching torso? hands too low?). Clinic lessons with other trainers on occasion is super helpful and I would love to ride again with SM sometime, maybe on Hannah.